The Brooklyn Museum is offering a taste of one of the most famous (and expensive) restaurants in the world without asking you to spend your whole paycheck.
Starting Wednesday through Jan. 5, 2020, the museum’s full-service restaurant, The Norm, will pay homage to the legendary Maxim’s de Paris in both décor and menu — as a complement to its new exhibit on Pierre Cardin, the restaurant’s owner.
The exhibit, "Future Fashion," is a retrospective of the 97-year-old’s career in couture fashion seen through about 170 items he designed, including space-age apparel, hats, shoes and furniture.
Whether you go to the exhibit or not, Maxim’s at The Norm aims to transport you to Paris — the ceiling has been repainted the original restaurant’s signature deep burgundy, and its bar is now gold like the restaurant’s logo. One of its walls has been reworked to look like Maxim’s exterior and another showcases a reproduction of its interior Art Nouveau elements.
And while The Norm isn’t mimicking Maxim’s dish for dish, its chefs, Saul Bolton and Andy Meijas, have designed a menu that is an "ode to French cuisine" and "an homage to Maxim’s," according to Great Performances Hospitality Group, which operates the restaurant.
Menu items like gougères, steak frites and marquise de chocolat can be ordered a la carte or as a three-course $45 prix fixe, however, contemporary versions of dishes from the Maxim’s de Paris cookbook are offered as part of the prix fixe, like salade lyonnaise (seasonal greens, bacon lardons, croutons, poached egg), poulet rôti aux pêches (roast chicken, grilled peaches, baby arugula, chimichurri sauce), coquilles Saint-Jacques (pan-seared scallops, oyster mushrooms, artichokes, escarole, white wine sauce), and profiteroles (vanilla ice cream, praline, warm chocolate sauce).
All of the ingredients will be purchased almost daily at local markets, including at Union Square’s Greenmarket and at Brooklyn Army Plaza’s market, so that they mimic the farm freshness found in French cuisine, the hospitality group says.
Cocktails have also been carefully crafted — "Le Costumier" is Champagne mixed with lemon, elderflower, gin and hibiscus; "The Tailor’s White Sangria" is made with white grapes, pomegranate vodka, triple sec, honey, pinot grigio, fresh fruit and mint; and aside from other cocktails, there are a couple of mocktails like the "Fashionable Astronaut" made with blackberry, lemonade and club soda.
Prices for entrees range from $19 to $28 if ordering a la carte, which is a pittance compared to Maxim’s current summer menu, which does not have an entree less expensive than 48 euros, or about $54.
Maxim’s wasn’t always so upscale — it began as a little bistro on Paris’s Rue Royale in 1893 and didn’t become popular until 1900, when a new owner transformed it into an Art Nouveau masterpiece, according to Great Performances Hospitality Group.
Despite a few more change-of-hands, Maxim’s became a place to see and be seen and became the world’s most expensive and famous restaurant by the 1950s.
Cardin, who was a regular since the 1960s, purchased the restaurant in 1981 when its owners were intent on selling but worried about its future. Cardin continued building the restaurant’s fame up by building a 1900s-themed cabaret and creating an Art Nouveau museum on its upper floors. Since then, Maxim’s has expanded to many locations across the world, including one in New York City at Madison Avenue and East 61st Street, which was open between 1985 and 2000.
IF YOU GO: The restaurant takeover at The Norm, which follows on the heels of its Mexican-inspired transformation during the museum’s Frida Kahlo exhibit, will be open Wednesdays through Sundays, from noon to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays, noon to 9 p.m. on Thursdays, and 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Brunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. You can reserve a table at thenormbkm.com.
It is located on the ground floor of the Brooklyn Museum at 200 Eastern Pkwy. in Brooklyn.